What’s the Deal with Catholicism and Food?
I’m The Catholic Foodie, right? This is “where food meets faith,” right? But I don’t often talk plainly about the food-faith connection. I usually just hint at it. Then I give you a recipe. But maybe it is time we talk about food and faith a bit more plainly. After all, as Catholics our faith revolves around a meal. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. And even before the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, one of the defining annual celebrations of the Jews was a meal… The Passover meal. The same celebration during which Jesus instituted the Eucharist the night before he died.
From Genesis to Revelation, food plays a major role in scripture. Sin and death came into the world through eating. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But salvation comes through eating too. We see it first in the Exodus. Only those who ate the lamb, those safely inside homes marked with the blood of the lamb, survived. The story of the Passover meal and the salvation that came from it was only a type of what was to come. In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus tells us that he is the Bread of Life. He says that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life. We see this come to pass at the Last Supper when Jesus institutes the Eucharist, giving us his very self as food. It doesn’t stop there though. Heaven itself is described as “the wedding feast of the Lamb” in Revelation. Heaven is a feast!
However, even though food plays such a prominent role in scripture, many of us are locked in a love-hate relationship with food. Perhaps it’s just a problem of affluence. In the United States, food is everywhere. We have drive-thrus, Super Wal-Marts, and grocery stores galore. Vending machines are conveniently located in our schools, our colleges, our offices, and our hospitals. Not only do companies that produce food of various types spend thousands (and even millions) of dollars advertising on TV, we also have Food Network and The Cooking Channel to entertain us 24/7 and make us hungry for more.
And America is obese.
And there are many who struggle with eating disorders.
And it seems like everybody has food issues of some sort. Food allergies, food intolerances, yo-yo dieting…
And what about food production and processing? The chemicals, the steroids, the feed lots….
The list goes on.
Food. It is a love-hate thing.
But what if it’s really not about food? What if, on the personal level at least, some of the “issues” we have with food really spawn from something deeper? Something… relational?
In her latest book, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, Mary DeTurris Poust asks just that.
Who is Mary DeTurris Poust?
Mary DeTurris Poust is an author, columnist, journalist, speaker, and blogger who has written for dozens of Catholic and secular publications. She is the author Walking Together, Everyday Divine, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism, and Parenting a Grieving Child. Poust was a senior correspondent and contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor newspaper for fourteen years and is a daily contributor to Our Sunday Visitor’s popular blog, OSV Daily Take. Her award-winning monthly column “Life Lines” has been published in Catholic New York since 2001.
Poust also writes about family, faith, and the spiritual journey at her own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. She has worked for the dioceses of Metuchen, New Jersey, and Austin, Texas, as well as the Archdiocese of New York, we she served as a managing editor of Catholic New York. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and three children.
She’s also a Catholic foodie. 😉
Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God
This isn’t your typical food / diet / health book. No. With laser-like efficiency this book cuts through the cluttered and conflicted dieting landscape and gets right to the heart of it all.
“Cravings is not simply a food-focused book that dabbles in spirituality. It is a Christ-focused book that addresses the food issues that haunt so many of us, whether we are overweight, underweight, or exactly where we are supposed to be. Because sometimes –often– the number on the scale has nothing to do with the depth of the struggle.
“The physical hungers that lead to constant snacking and high-calorie meals often mask something much deeper, a spiritual hunger that can never be satisfied by anything we buy at the grocery store or whip up in a food processor. What can satisfy us once and for all? Only God can. So this path to wholeness will be centered on the one relationship that promises to free us from the constraints we put on ourselves through overeating or yo-yo dieting or self-loathing, from the things that prevent us from experiencing the peace and potential that is rightfully ours.”
Cravings is a refreshing guide to freedom in Christ. Through this book, Mary DeTurris Poust leads us on a journey to the truth of who God is and the truth of who we are. She leads as a fellow-companion, as one who struggles too.
As the publisher Ave Maria Press explains, “Poust proves an experienced and understanding companion as she guides readers down a path she continues to walk—from reaching for handfuls of candy when faced with tough life decisions to reaching for God instead… [F]rom a Catholic perspective, Poust illuminates the integral role of food in the faith. ‘Ours is a faith centered on a meal. Day after day, week after week, we gather around a table to break bread with our spiritual family in much the same way we gather around the dinner table with our individual families each night.’
“Cravings is a powerful companion in learning to look at body and spirit as two united parts of a whole and in doing so, gaining self-awareness and self-acceptance. As Poust helps readers confront the fact that God truly does love us unconditionally, the need for external gratification diminishes, as does the urge to count calories.”
Personally, reading this book was a powerful experience for me. It is not often that I cry when reading a book, but I cried more than once while reading Cravings. Why did I cry? Because the truth is beautiful. God is beautiful. I have been writing and speaking about food, faith, and family since 2008. I see connections in Scripture, in the liturgy, and in Catholic practice that can really help families to grow in faith and love around the family table. I get so excited when I meet other people who see the same thing. Mary definitely sees it.
Yesterday, the Epiphany (or Twelfth Night) Mary was interviewed about Cravings by CNN. I took a break from making my first King Cake of the Carnival season when my wife Char told me that CNN had put the interview online. Char and I watched it together… and we both cried! Why? Again, the truth is beautiful.
Please take a moment to watch this short interview. Mary really nails it!
CNN Interviews Mary DeTurris Poust About Her New Book Cravings
Needless to say, I highly recommend Cravings for anyone searching for freedom in Christ.
The Cravings Blog Tour and a Chance to Win a $100 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card!
Enter to win a $100 Williams-Sonoma gift card through this link: https://www.avemariapress.com/cravingsform/ You can enter every day until January 20th!
Win a Copy of Cravings! Comment Below!
I am giving away a free copy of Cravings. To enter, just leave a comment below. On January 13, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I will randomly draw a winner.